The Chop Room - Buying a community hair salon

by Rebecca James in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

The Chop Room - Buying a community hair salon

Total raised £300

£75,000 target 24 days left
0% 9 supporters
Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 18th August 2024 at 4:00pm

Help us to create a community hair salon! We plan to take a currently vacant hair salon and redevelop it into a salon with a difference.

by Rebecca James in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

1. Help us to create a community hair salon!

Our vision is to take a currently vacant and for sale property previously used as a hair salon and redevelop it into a salon with a difference. 

We hope to develop not any old salon, but a community venue and a Community Interest Company - a salon plus! 

A venue to 

  • spend time there, just because! 
  • increase socialisation for locals, young and old
  • increase access support and services for the community
  • to increase the employability of local young people
  • offer opportunities for vulnerable groups to work in the salon and access specialised training to support their community
  • and have a hair cut, of course!


 2. Why does this project matter? 

Well, quite frankly, recent times have never looked so bleak. Loneliness and isolation is rising, poor mental health is increasing, money isn't going as far as it did, positive outcomes for families and young people are decreasing.


While the local and national picture looks disheartening, often a trusted, welcoming, local service with understanding peers, that feels safe and accessible can make all the difference to an individuals outcomes. We hope to increase those local connections and provide assistance where needed.

3. Who are we?

Well, we is currently just me. My name is Rebecca James and I have zero experince in hair dressing or barbering. 

BUT I have a built a strong and successful career working with people. People who need support, people who are experiencing some of the worst times of their life, then developing and managing services to help - and I'm very good at it! 

I have built 16 years experience of working directly with families and young people needing support, progressing to developing and managing local services and implementing new projects, moving up to my current role of advising Local Authorities nationally to implement government funded services for babies, families and young people. I have created a vast number of relationships with local authority and partner agencies in the area and regionally and those connections will be invaluable in getting this project up and running.

I was inspired to develop this project after listening to a Radio 4 interview on a long drive to a work, Local Authority visit. During this interview a salon owner, somewhere in the north of the country, spoke about the evolution of his hair business where he is now providing a restaurant service within the same establishment. He described the community he had developed by expanding his business. 

And this got me thinking....what if we take this a step further. What if we develop a salon with the priority purpose of supporting the community? Somewhere accessible, somewhere supportive, somewhere for people to learn and develop when they've struggled before. 

Then I remembered a vacant salon in my local town and, well, the four hour journey and subsequent days were consumed with thinking, planning, and problem solving getting us to this point.

So I have work to do. Work to understand the Community Interest Company world, and the hairdressing and barbering business. But I bring vast experience in service development, unblocking service delivery issues, extensive knowledge on how to support vulnerable communities and managing teams to do the same - plus a pig-headed determination to make this a success.

3. What will the salon look like?

 A different aesthetic!

St Ives is not short of hair salons. So we've thought carefully about how this salon should look different - other than our strong community focus. 


We're thinking a bright, non gender specific, engaging, "Pop Art" aesthetic creating a fun, engaging atmosphere for all of the community. Something where a young person can feel comfortable, a parent can bring their child, a group of friends can spend time. 


The shop consists of a L shaped floor space. The previous salon contained around 8 chairs, two wash basins and a small reception bar. We want to transform this space keeping 4 chairs and the two wash basins in the long part of the L, but then turning the square, front area of the shop into a welcoming community space. This space should include sofas, tables, chairs and electronic equipment to be used for no additional cost - even a games console or two. There'll be complimentary drinks - a warm cuppa on a cold day, a cold drink on a warm day - and even food during some of our interventions.

This is to encourage the community venue feel, making it a place you come to spend time with others as well as treat yourself.

Potential new layout (not to scale) –


4. What kind of support will we offer the community?

 Some of the interventions we plan to fund in order to serve our community include -

  •  Apprenticeships - particularly for young people who have struggled to access education. We’re ambitious about working towards Alternative Provision status in the county. 
  • Fixed training courses - similar to the coffee trucks projects - increasing learning and training opportunities for vulnerable young people. Allowing them to learn skills from the barbering itself, to business management and accounting.
  • A focus on Dads
    • Supporting Dads with their perinatal mental health and bonding with their babies by inviting  dads and children during the day 
    • Supporting Dads and Sons to improve their relationships and connections
  • Tackling loneliness - organised events for vulnerable communities in the area, such as the elderly community in Huntingdonshire including the brilliant multigenerational approach - linking elderly with younger generations to combat loneliness 
  • Women's events - a safe space for local women to connect and reduce isolation, including a focus on ethic minority and faith groups.
  • Neurodiversity and disability opportunities - a safe space for neurodiverse adults, parents and children to connect with specific group and peer support sessions and specific neuro friendly sessions where appointments are spaced at 1 per hour and quiet sessions.


6. Our staff

 We plan to recuite a mix of experienced and junior, likeminded, extra special, hair stylists and barbers who have a motivation to make a difference in their communities through hair and beyond. Recruiting employees that share the same core values of the project is essential to creating a fun, safe, supportive, community environment. 

We hope to fund additional training for all our staff including but not exclusive to - 

  • Safeguarding
  • Identifying emerging mental health needs and mental health first aid
  • Understanding neurodiversity and associated behaviours
  • Trauma informed practice
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Linking in with our local Early Help Offer to ensure all our staff are up to date with local services to sign post our customers to. 

Our staff will also receive regular supervision to discuss their own development and any customer emerging needs that may need further discussion, as well as debrief opportunities for staff to prioritise their own mental health.

We will welcome staff with lived experience of difficulties or from vulnerable groups including but not exclusive to those with -

  • Care experience
  • Those who found it difficult to access education
  • Neurodiversity
  • Disabilities
  • Recovered substance misuse
  • Criminal Justice system experienced

All workers will be subject to Disclosure and Barring checks to ensure we make safe recuitment decisions.

Staffing structure

Although able to as a CIC, directors will not take a regular salary from the project to ensure the salon remains as sustainable as possible. Salon staff will either be paid on a salary basis raised by salon services income, or, as freelance staff with weekly/monthly chair hire cost to deliver their treatments from the salon. Additional work delivered through interventions will be funded by external funded sources.


7. Impact 

While firm, specific SMART Key Performance Indicators based on potential reach are to be determined based on the securing of the venue and confirmation of staffing numbers, our over arching impact objectives are as follows;1718977111_chop_social_(5).png

8. How do we do all of this? 

Stage 1 - Fundraise

Stage 1 is to fund raise enough to provide a deposit for the purchase of the building. This is by far the toughest stage and we recognise the size of our ambition to be able to do this. If we fail at this stage, it will be difficult to progress as hoped.

Stage 2 - Mobilisation

 - Fund raise and/or grant fund to complete capital works and kit out the salon

- Start our recuitment process to onboard our super staff

- Begin linking in with partners and local services

- Launch our comms campaign to generate local interest and support

Stage 3 - Grand opening!

- With an organised community event in and around the salon

- Food and resources supplied through grant funds or local supermarket community connectors

- Staff and volunteers leafleting and inviting locals to access the salon during the event

Stage 4 - Sustainability

Maintaining a salon is not cheap nor easy! Especially when profit isn't our main priority. The Chop Room will be coordinated as a Community Interest Company (CIC). This means we can generate funds through the two following ways-

Salon services-

Just as a normal salon, we will have a cohort of barbers and stylists generating business through a regular customer base and chair hire. Being a CIC means that all profits are channelled back into the salon to support with the ongoing community benefit and fund further interventions. However, it's important to us that all pricing and treatment options are considered carefully in order to remain accessible to our community. 

Funding and grants-

Being a CIC means we are eligible to apply for numerous and varying sized grants from local and national funding sources. This will allow us to fund those specific interventions and training we have planned following the purchase of the salon, support with the reduction in prices for treatments, support us to offer food and beverages free or of little cost, and offer salon services for free for those attending some of our more targeted interventions. 

Rental income -

The salon comes with a 1 bedroom property above. The rental income generated through this property will be channelled back into the salon and the salon interventions as per the CIC approach. 

Options are being considered as to whether to keep the property as an independent rental or as a possible reduced rental rate package for a Salon employee. This may be dependant on a the recuited employees circumstances. 

Following the establishment of the salon and services, later options for changing the usage of the apartment could be considered and may include transforming it from a residential property to an extension of the salon. This could be used for further intervention rooms for local services or the development of salon services. 

Social Media activity

Social media needs to be a strong consideration to support the development and promotion of the salon. 

Social media channels will be created across all the major platforms with a particular focus on documenting the progression of the project via TikTok, initially managed by the project manager. 

When we move to the second phase of developing the project, we will look to offer an opportunity for a social media content creator to come onboard. Again, this we would consider this as a paid opportunity for a currently studying or newly graduated student to build a portfolio or via an internship.

If we manage to generate enough social media interest, this may also act as an additional revenue stream to be channelled back into the CIC. 

Partnership Working

Partnership working will be a key way for us to deliver the intervention aspect of the salons work. With established relationships with the County Council, Early Help services, Family Hubs and Community Voluntary Services, this is the area in which we have a head start. 

The partners we will connect with are as follows;

Family Hubs - linking in with Family Hub staff to offer advice, guidance and access to parenting support, mental health support, early learning, readiness for school, parental conflict etc. Supporting with creche services. 

Youth services - young peoples workers, youth workers, youth transitions advisors, youth offending workers, KickYouth, to offer support and advice for our young people during our young people targeted interventions. Includes mental health support, resilience building, self esteem building, careers advice and guidance, reducing isolation etc.

Local sexual health services - offering advice and guidance to young people, keeping them safe

Cambridge Regional College - supporting with apprenticeships and training  

Papworth Trust - linking in around employability for people with disabilities

Job Centre Plus and Citizens Advice - supporting with benefits and debt advice 

HomeStart Cambridgeshire - supporting isolated parents with children under the age of 5 to access the salon and create peer support opportunities

Local drug and alcohol services - providing advice and guidance to young people and parents


9. Timeline of activity

Whilst timelines may be subject to change as they are initially hugely dependant on the time to fund raise and complete the purchase of the venue, its important to demonstrate the pace at which we plan to have the project up and running. Once the initial purchase phase is completed, the aim is to work at pace to support the community as soon as possible.


10. Final words

So if you've managed to read this far, you'll be aware you are joining us at the beginning of a long, ambitious journey that we hope to turn around in an exceptionally small amount of time. But raising the money to purchase the building is our first step and hardest step. In return for your support, we're offering a range of rewards for believing in us. But none of this will equal our gratitude for your belief in the project. So thank you!

I'm happy to explain and elaborate further so if you have any questions, please do make contact.

11. Rewards for your contribution

As a thank you for your contributions to the project and supporting us to achieve this huge ambition, we are offering a series of awards as follows;

  • Your name on a pledge board in the salon
  • A pop art thank you postcard
  • A pop art poster
  • A pop art T-shirt
  • A free haircut in the salon

Please join us in this journey and support us to make a difference to families in Huntingdonshire


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£75 or more

0 of 50 claimed

£75 Reward

Your name on a pledge board displayed in the Salon, a Pop Art thank you postcard and a Pop Art Poster

£20 or more

£20 Reward

Your name on a pledge board displayed in the Salon

£50 or more

0 of 50 claimed

£50 Reward

Your name on a pledge board displayed in the Salon, and a Pop Art thank you postcard

£100 or more

0 of 20 claimed

£100 Reward

Your name on a pledge board displayed in the Salon, a Pop Art thank you postcard and a Pop Art T-shirt

£150 or more

1 of 10 claimed

£150 Reward

Your name on a pledge board displayed in the Salon, a Pop Art thank you postcard, a Pop Art T-shirt and a free haircut in the salon

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